- NAME: William Howard Taft
- OCCUPATION: Academic, Supreme Court Justice, U.S. President
- BIRTH DATE: September 15, 1857
- DEATH DATE: March 08, 1930
- EDUCATION: Yale College, University of Cincinnati College of Law
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Cincinnati, Ohio
- PLACE OF DEATH: Washington, D.C.
- Full Name: William Howard Taft
- AKA: William H. Taft
- Nickname: "Big Lub"
- AKA: William Taft
- Nickname: "Old Bill"
Best Known For
William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States, fulfilled a lifelong dream when he was appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court, becoming the only person to have served as both a U.S. chief justice and president.
After promising the American people he would not run for re-election in 1908, Roosevelt kept his word and hand picked his successor, William Howard Taft. Yet Taft began to undo Roosevelt's work, prompting him to run for office again.
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William Howard Taft was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on September 15, 1857. From a prominent political family, he followed his forebears into law and was on track to be a career jurist, well on his way to his dream job of sitting on the Supreme Court, when he was sidetracked for a term as the 27th U.S. president by his wife and Theodore Roosevelt. Taft finally achieved his dream of being elected chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1921,
"No tendency is quite so strong in human nature as the desire to lay down rules of conduct for other people."
"Don't write so that you can be understood, write so that you can't be misunderstood."
"A government is for the benefit of all the people."
"I don't remember that I ever was president."
becoming the only person to have served both as a chief justice and president. Taft died in Washington, D.C., on March 8, 1930.
William Howard Taft, born on September 15, 1857, in Cincinnati, Ohio, was one of six children of Louisa Maria Torrey and Alphonso Taft. Many Taft ancestors, who could be traced back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, had gone into law, including William's father, Alphonso Taft. Alphonso Taft had served under President Ulysses S. Grant as both secretary of war and attorney general, and as an ambassador under President Chester A. Arthur.
Taft went to private school and, like his father, attended Yale College. There, he joined the now-notorious secret society Skull and Bones, which his father co-founded in 1832. Taft graduated from Yale in 1878. Departing from tradition, he went on to attend the University of Cincinnati College of Law, and was admitted to the Ohio State Bar Association in 1880. Not long after, in 1886, wooed a schoolhood chum of his only sister, Frances: Helen "Nellie" Herron, whom Taft had met at a sledding party.
Taft did evince some political aspirations, joking that if he ever made it to Washington, it would be because his wife was secretary of the treasury, but he had always said his lifelong dream was to sit on the Supreme Court. Nellie, however, who had visited the Hayes White House with her family as a child, expressed a keen interest in living there.
As a young lawyer from a politically prominent family, Taft rose swiftly through the ranks, as county prosecutor, state judge, then at 32, in 1890, he became the youngest appointee as U.S. Solicitor General by President Benjamin Harrison, which moved the family to Washington for two years, to Nellie’s delight; there they met Theodore and Edith Roosevelt.
Several other posts followed back in Cincinnati, but a decade later, President William McKinley appointed Taft governor general of the Philippines. The portly judge then took his wife and three children to Southeast Asia, where they lived for four years, visiting China, Japan and the Vatican. Taft improved the Filipino economy and infrastructure, and expanded opportunities for governmental participation for Filipinos.
Back in Washington, D.C. by 1904, Taft became President Theodore Roosevelt's secretary of war. Two years later, when Roosevelt offered him the choice to serve as either president or chief justice, Taft naturally chose his dream job. However, following a private meeting between Nellie and Roosevelt, Taft was swayed into running for the U.S. presidency instead.
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